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Air Travel Issues

Air travel is convenient, but at the same time, can be as annoying as anything a traveler can do. Recent security measures, flight delays and other problems can turn a pleasant vacation into a nightmare. There have been numerous stories about how to deal with these problems, but they tend to deal with one problem in particular. Here are the problems a traveler is most likely to face, and tips on how to avoid them, all in one package.

Most people are concerned about security issues and flight delays. These have dramatically increased since 2001, and they are issues, but travelers can minimize their impact. First, a traveler needs to check his flight before he leaves for the airport, if possible. He can look on the airline’s real-time departures Web site or call their customer service number. To see if any airports are experiencing delays, a traveler can look up the Federal Aviation Administration's Web site and search for airport delays. A real-time map shows all major US airports, and their current status, as far as delays and holds are concerned. Rolling the mouse over the airport will detail any delays. If any flights are delayed, the traveler needs to contact the airline as soon as possible. Don’t wait until arriving at the airport. Start making arrangements for alternate flights or other accommodations as soon as delays are announced. Airlines will usually accommodate a traveler who is stuck, or maybe stuck, but they have to know. Gate agents will be swamped with the disgruntled, so hashing the problem out with the airline’s telephone staff is probably the best option.

Get to the airport early — very early — at least two hours for domestic flights and three for international. If there are delays at the ticket counters or security checkpoints, a traveler will have plenty of wiggle room built into his schedule.

Delays at ticket counters can be eliminated with the use of e-tickets. Most major airports have e-ticket kiosks and these are surely one of the best, most sensible applications of computer technology. A traveler simply needs a credit card or frequent flyer number. Insert the card into the reader, or key in the frequent flyer number. The traveler’s name and itinerary will pop up. From here, with the use of a touch screen, a traveler can change seats on a plane, upgrade the ticket class and even print out baggage stickers, if he is checking baggage. When he is finished, the computer will print out his boarding passes for the flight he is boarding, and the connecting flight, if there is one, and will also print out baggage stickers for his checked luggage. Folders and labels are even available at these kiosks so the traveler can go ahead and put his name on his bags. From there, if he has bags to check, he clears them through security and hands the stickers to the agent. They are applied, the bags sent on to the plane, and the traveler goes to the security checkpoint. If he does not have bags to check (recommended, if possible), then he simply picks up his boarding passes and goes to the checkpoint with his carry-on luggage.

If a traveler has a paper ticket, especially if there are problems with the ticket, he needs to arrive even earlier, so as to resolve the issue in time to catch the flight. This also applies with those checking boxes or large packages. The earlier the arrival, the better off everyone is.

Carry-on luggage — the rules are stricter than they used to be. However, if a traveler can carry on, it is better to do so. This eliminates any chance of baggage being lost or misdirected. But be smart. Pack well, and pay attention to what is packed. Don’t pack anything that could possibly be construed as a weapon. Safety razors will clear, and so will fingernail clippers, but don’t count on anything else with a sharp edge to make it through. It’s not a bad idea to have a friend standing outside the checkpoint to take anything that doesn’t make it. Be certain the carry-on will fit inside the plane’s overhead compartment or under the seat. For smaller aircraft, like the Canadair Regional Jets, the overhead compartments are narrow from bottom to top. A bag might squeeze in under the seat, though. A traveler can check a bag planeside, and pick it up when deplaning at the destination.

Now, the traveler is standing at the checkpoint, waiting to be cleared. What now? First, have identification and boarding passes in hand, ready to go. Some airports have agents who wind through the lines, checking this in advance. They will usually announce they will be doing this, but go ahead and have the documents ready. Don’t stick them in the carry-on bag. Hold on to them. Be pleasant to and patient with the gate agents. Greet them pleasantly and don’t make any comments about bombs or explosives. They take these things very seriously. Even if the lines get long, stay calm. Airlines are not stupid, and if the security checkpoints get clogged, they will hold the flights. They want your warm body in the seat as much as you want it to be there.

Wear sensible clothes and shoes. Wear clothes that do not draw attention to themselves, and wear shoes that are easy to slip on and off. Loafers are ideal. Boots will spark the ire of the entire population at the gate. Be ready to take off shoes and even your coat, to put in the tubs to be checked. Sometimes, agents will pull things at random to check. If this happens, smile and comply immediately. Stand quietly while the agent checks your bags. Don’t make snide comments and don’t do anything stupid. In fact, being calm, pleasant and agreeable will do more toward getting you through a checkpoint quickly than almost anything else. Demeanor is everything. Be the oasis of calm in the chaos of the checkpoint. It works. When you are cleared, smile, thank the agent and tell him to have a nice day, in the most sincere voice you can muster. Don’t argue — just do it. Pleasant manners and civility may not guarantee you won’t be searched, but they may do more than you will ever know. They will never hurt you, in any case.

Once a traveler has cleared security, chances are, most of the biggest hurdles have been cleared. If there are gate delays or other foul-ups, these may be resolved at the gate. Again, the key is to be pleasant and accommodating. Gate agents will do what they can, and they are far more likely to work with those who are being patient and calm.

Once a traveler gets on the plane, he should deal with whatever small inconveniences crop up with goodwill. After all — what are these small problems in the scheme of a life? Looking at “the big picture” may help here. If a traveler starts becoming agitated, he should step back, take a few deep breaths, count to 50 and smile. There are horror stories about how poorly travelers are treated, but in many of these cases, a little digging will turn up a disgruntled traveler and a burned-out gate agent screaming at each other. Being civil halts 90 percent of these problems before they get started.

If a traveler will show the same consideration to airport and airline agents that he would like to be shown, he will avoid many of the worst airport hassles. Arriving early, using an e-ticket, packing sensibly and being a nice person are the best weapons in a traveler’s arsenal.If you like what you just read please click to send a quick vote for me on Top Mommy Blogs- The best mommy blog directory featuring top mom bloggers


Masshole Mommy said…
Our family flies several times a year, so we are pretty experienced. You have some great advice here :)
At least two hours before the flight time is just ideal. I don't want to be panicking at the very last minutes before the travel. The worst is having to buy a new set of tickets. It will also help to have a separate bag that contains all the travel documents and stuff, so everything is ready and easy to take out for inspection whenever needed.
Rena McDaniel said…
These are all such awesome air travel tips! Especially at this time of the year. I am going to pin this to share and save for later.
Thanks for the tips. Wearing comfy clothes is always on my list! Hoodie for me! Great to put it on my head to provide extra cushion when napping and keeps me warm! win win!
We do travel a lot, and you are right, preparing for the airport makes for a smooth and not so bad experience
Dressing is so key, esy shoes to TSA!
spiffykerms said…
I feel like I'm the biggest germaphobe on an airplane. Everywhere else, I'm okay. I wish there was some sort of system or having the airline stewardess telling people to cough in their elbows, as opposed to in their hands, or not cover their faces at all. And those bathrooms - man, they can get nasty. Especially after a long flight, which my husband and I have to do this Christmas (10+ hours.. ugh) lol.

My husband are packing a bit lighter this year - we're still going to have the 2 carry-on luggages per person (except our 10lb dog counts as one of our carry ons... PLUS an added $350/return charge - nuts!)
Nina Say said…
My air travel issue is that I'm terrified of flying. It scares the crap out of me. I am getting shivers and sweaty palms just thinking about it. I'm not scared of a crash, or even heights, it's that feeling in my stomach when you hit air pockets. I hate that feeling.
Esther Ju*Lee said…
we fly pretty frequently, but i don't think i've ever been to the airport 3 hours early even for international flights. i find it extremely annoying when flights make you check in your carry on luggage because the overhead space is full.. and these days it's more likely to be full bc check ins cost more and more money. i think delays are probably the worst part of flying though.. especially the ones when they set your expectations for shorter delays and keep delaying multiple times. i wonder why they don't just tell you the delay will be an hour.. and then if it's 20 minutes late.. you're pleasantly surprised. instead they say 20 minutes.. then adding anoher.. and then another. *sigh but i guess ultimately we're fortunate to be traveling anyways.. so i should be grateful. just need to set my expecttions for lots of delays.
loveforlacquer said…
Grea tips! I definitely get to the airport wayyy before I'm supposed to! I would hate to miss my flight
These are great travel tips. It has been several years since I have flown. We always tried to arrive extra early.
Lisa B said…
These are all great traveling tips. I do not travel anywhere unless i drive. I am hoping to go on a vacation to Jamaica in the next few years. It will be exciting to go on a plane.
Yona Williams said…
The part of air travel for me is when you know you are going to miss your connecting flight, and have to deal with making arrangements to get to the next flight. My mother recently had a heck of a time trying to get back home from a really long flight. She was on the plane for like 3-4 hours while they got things straight. Fixing something, deicing the plane, etc...I would have went nuts.
Michelle Hwee said…
I definitely agree with you on many of these points! I love the first photo, haha it is so true and actually does happen.. Many airplanes really are an experience aren't they.. lovely how they take you from one place to another relatively quick but boy does it come bothersome when you're next to someone inconsiderate or bothersome.
Rebecca Swenor said…
These are great tips for the air travels indeed. I don't travel hardly ever and have not been on a plane for over 25 yrs. Thanks for sharing.
Liz Mays said…
You really do have to prepared to go with the flow and expect delays and additional security checks sometimes. If you allow extra time for it, it doesn't get you too riled up.
to wear something comfortable is always an important factor, at least for me it is.
When it comes to travel, we always needed to prepare as much as we can. My mom tends to do the rounds of preparation 3x and yet at times we tend to forget things too.. it is quite a hassle when we encounter travel issues though.One thing to keep in mind is always prepare ahead of time and wear something comfortable and practical.
I don't like to fly because of all of the delays and security issues, but I do because it's the fastest way to get there. Thanks so much for sharing.
Emilee said…
I don't like flying. I've only flown once, when I was a teenager. I cried the entire flight! My favorite movie growing up was The Buddy Holly Story... so I'm a little traumatized about flying lol.
Fiona said…
I used to love flying but since all these drastic security issues have come into place it's made it such a horrible experience. I hate going through security and being treated like a criminal even though I've done nothing wrong. I always use e-tickets to bypass the crowds because the link at check-in is always crazy!
Kori Tomelden said…
Air travel has changed so much in the past ten years. I used to love flying but now it can be more of a hassle than anything.
Bonnie Gowen said…
I've never flown before and probably never will if I can help it. This is a great post for people that travel. Thanks for sharing.
mail4rosey said…
I'm pretty laid back when it comes to flying. I just expect things to happen, and if they don't, hurrah. The thing that really gets my dander up though is the new trend to not have parents sitting w/their small children. Passengers do NOT want to move to accommodate you, and you do NOT want to have your young child sitting away from you, period. I'm sure I annoy the airlines as much as they annoy me when this happens. I take all precautions...scheduling early, paying for seats to pick 'em, getting their early, etc. but it's still an issue with some airlines...two that I know of for sure. And it's maddening.
Lauren Harmon said…
I know how frustrating traveling during the holidays can be! I've missed flight due to measures out of my control and had my luggage lost - but the convenience of how quick I arrive when flying always outweighs my bad experiences! I totally agree with your tips about arriving early, getting the e-pass, etc! I hope if you decide to travel over the holidays and beyond that you have safe and simple travels! :)
Ann B said…
I travel a lot. Airports can be very frustrating. It is best to try to keep a positive attitude and give yourself a lot of extra time.
Rattles Heels said…
I've been traveling since I was a child and I don't make a huge deal about delayed fights or airport security. It comes with the territory and I want to be safe which is much more important to me. I agree that getting to the airport early reduces stress. I always wear comfortable clothing and prepare myself to buy food and magazines to stay entertained and full. Plus, I can look forward to my trip instead of stress about being at the airport. I much rather a safe late flight.
I am not a big fan of flying. It is stressful for me.
Eliz Obih-Frank said…
All of your tips are terrific for travelers to use and remember. It's stressful enough, so being prepared is key.
April Mims said…
We don't fly very often. It's such a pain to go through all of the lines and then end up with a delayed flight.
Erica Bodker said…
You know I have only ever been on a plane once and it want to Vegas. I threw up both there and back.. Not my finest moment.
I used to fly home all the time when I was in college, so I got pretty good at flying. It is kind of an annoying experience though. I remember being stuck in the airport during a snow storm when I was a young freshman, and I hated the airport, but other times I have enjoyed people watching! Thanks so much for the post!

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